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Joshua Drapkin

(b Azay-le-Ferron, Indre, June 3, 1756; d Versailles, Nov 1, 1827).

French draughtsman, engraver, sculptor and archaeologist. He received instruction in drawing from Joseph-Marie Vien, Jean-Jacques Lagrenée and Jean-Baptiste Le Prince. In 1778 he departed for Italy, where he developed his landscape draughtsmanship and his passion for antiquity. He travelled incessantly, recording everything he saw and venturing out from Rome to Venice, Naples and Sicily. An example of the numerous drawings he produced is the Ruins of the Baths of Titus Seen from the Colosseum (Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). In 1782 a group of amateurs, under the patronage of Emperor Joseph II, commissioned from him a series of views of the Istrian and Dalmatian coast; these were eventually published in J. Lavallée’s Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie. After a brief spell in France, Cassas followed Marie-Gabriel, Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, to his new ambassadorial post in Constantinople in 1784. He subsequently visited Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus and Asia Minor, recording his impressions of Alexandria, Cairo, Smyrna, the Temple of Diana (Artemis) at Ephesos and the Palmyra and Baalbek ruins. Many of the 250 drawings dating from this trip were of hitherto unrecorded sights. With Choiseul’s assistance Cassas published these works in the ...

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John Wilton-Ely

[Giambattista]

(b Mogliano, nr Mestre, Oct 4, 1720; d Rome, Nov 9, 1778).

Italian etcher, engraver, designer, architect, archaeologist and theorist. He is considered one of the supreme exponents of topographical engraving, but his lifelong preoccupation with architecture was fundamental to his art. Although few of his architectural designs were executed, he had a seminal influence on European Neo-classicism through personal contacts with architects, patrons and visiting artists in Rome over the course of nearly four decades. His prolific output of etched plates, which combined remarkable flights of imagination with a strongly practical understanding of ancient Roman technology, fostered a new and lasting perception of antiquity. He was also a designer of festival structures and stage sets, interior decoration and furniture, as well as a restorer of antiquities. The interaction of this rare combination of activities led him to highly original concepts of design, which were advocated in a body of influential theoretical writings. The ultimate legacy of his unique vision of Roman civilization was an imaginative interpretation and re-creation of the past, which inspired writers and poets as much as artists and designers....